by Faith Walker
Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, bearer of gifts and bringer of good cheer. How could this lovely old man be responsible for Black America going astray? I wouldn’t lay all of the blame at this feet. But, he could be an underlying cause for the loss of priorities.
Let me explain, if I may. I vividly remember when I was younger…much younger, my family was happy, close-knit and poor. My mother cleaned house and baby sat; my father drove a bus and was a janitor. Their five children were obedient, well-mannered and grateful. There were only three times during the year that we could expect new clothes or toys.
September meant that school would be starting soon and we hoped to get a new outfit and a new pair of shoes for school. We hoped, not expected, the outfit and shoes. My siblings and I knew that having paper, pencils and notebooks for class, would be my parent’s priority. They made sure we had the essentials. They wanted us to be successful in the classroom; the latest clothing trends were the least of their concerns.
Today’s first day of school is nothing like the ones in my childhood. I have spent a lot of time in elementary and high schools over the past two decades. Students stroll in wearing $150 shoes and $90 jeans. Yet, they don’t bring pencil, pen or paper into the classroom. Teachers, especially in upper elementary schools provide pencils, paper and folders to their students. Parents on the other hand, may choose to invest in that $125.00 book bag, but fail to keep it stocked.
Some of our modern day parents are more obsessed with their children dressing the part, than actually learning the information. I’ve spoken too numerous parents who live by the mantra, “I want them to have more than I did, when I grew up.” My parents wanted the same thing, but they realized that it shouldn’t be given to the child without some type of expectations in place.
My first day of school meant Christmas season was in the air. This was the time to earn your Christmas rewards. You see, African American children knew that doing well in school would lead to a happy and Merry Christmas. You earned gifts, because your parents had to work extra hours to provide them. The importance of a good education was drilled into our heads constantly. You didn’t get in trouble at school, or you got in trouble at home. If you didn’t straighten up, your parents would straighten you up. Then…Santa wouldn’t leave presents. He’d leave a lump of coal and if you tried to plead your case to Santa, he wouldn’t listen. Instead of listening, he’d spit in your eye.
Unfortunately, a number of today’s parents don’t have the same thought process our parents did. Students are constantly telling their teacher what new thing they will get when mom or dad gets paid. Really? You’re child hasn’t turned in homework or passed a test in two weeks; yet you’re buying them something every two weeks. Children are being rewarded for mediocrity and irresponsibility. Parents are acting like Santa every day; not just once a year.
Children have not changed; it’s the parents who have changed. What happened to setting high expectations and demanding that your child lives up to them? When did wanting more for your child turn into expecting less from them? What happened to demanding respect from children? When did we decide to be wish grantor instead of disciplinarian? And Santa? Why have you been so silent? Why are you no longer giving coal and spitting in eyes? Is it because you are in competition with the Easter Bunny?